Murphy’s 59-yard OT fumble return ends Cards’ win over Vegas

Sep 18, 2022, 5:24 AM | Updated: 6:56 pm
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr., left, picks up a fumble and returns it for the winni...

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr., left, picks up a fumble and returns it for the winning touchdown during overtime of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

(AP Photo/David Becker)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Cardinals’ season appeared to be falling apart shortly after it began. One week after getting blown out by Kansas City, they took a 20-0 deficit into the locker room at halftime in Vegas.

But the afternoon ended with Byron Murphy Jr. scooping up a fumble and scoring in overtime for a wild 29-23 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, his Arizona teammates all sprinting behind him in a frenzy.

The Cardinals got off the brink and into the win column thanks to Kyler Murray, who made one spectacular play after another to show exactly why this team gladly gave him another $230.5 million.

“I had to take over,” Murray said. “Do whatever it took to win.”

Murphy returned Hunter Renfrow’s fumble 59 yards for a touchdown with 3:51 left in overtime, and the Cardinals rallied from that 20-point deficit in the second half before running away with the win Sunday.

Arizona (1-1) trailed 23-7 with less than nine minutes left in regulation, but Murray led two TD drives and two 2-point conversions. He passed for 277 yards, rushed for 28 more and flummoxed the Vegas defense with his elusiveness, particularly on a frantic scramble for a remarkable 2-point conversion with 8:13 to play.

Murray then scrambled for a 3-yard touchdown on the final snap of regulation before hitting A.J. Green for the tying 2-point conversion.

“That’s what he can do that nobody else can,” defensive end J.J. Watt said. “He gave us opportunities, and we made the most of it.”

The Raiders stopped Murray on downs on Arizona’s opening drive of overtime, but Renfrow then made a catch and fumbled for the second consecutive play. Isaiah Simmons knocked it loose, and Murphy snagged the ball and sprinted down the Cardinals’ sideline.

Murphy nearly ruined his own heroics when he released the ball from his hand right at the goal line, but video review determined he barely scored.

Murray grimaced and winced at the memory of watching Murphy lose the ball an instant after it would have cost the Cardinals dearly.

“I told him, you’ve got to take the ball home with you,” Murray said. “That would have hurt.”

Davante Adams and Darren Waller caught early touchdown passes from Derek Carr for the Raiders (0-2), who had the ball for less than 10 minutes in the second half while Murray worked his magic. Carr passed for 252 yards — just 42 after halftime — as Las Vegas lost a home opener for the first time since relocating to Nevada.

“That’s what happens when you play against a dynamic quarterback who can not only work with his arm, but can run outside the pocket and make plays like a running back,” Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs said. “It just makes it really tough to defend.”

The game showcased both the heights and depths of Murray’s incredible talent in his first victory since his five-year contract extension was finalized.

Murray threw an interception and committed a costly intentional-grounding penalty while passing for just 53 yards in the first half, but then racked up 188 yard through the air and made several unbelievable plays with his unique combination of athleticism and football smarts.

Murray hit Greg Dortch for a TD in the third quarter, and Darrel Williams rushed for a score with 8:13 left before Murray made a jaw-dropping improvisational run for a 2-point conversion, running horizontally across the field during roughly 20 seconds with the ball. He ran 84.9 yards on the play, according to Next Gen Stats.

“They had two people rushing, (so I) knew they weren’t going to be able to tackle me,” Murray said. “It was just about backyard football at that point. Try to find somebody. Move, get open, make a play.”

Murray then led Arizona on a 73-yard TD drive in the final 4:43 of regulation, capping it with his cool TD scramble on fourth down as time expired after three incompletions.

Moments earlier, Murray threw an incompletion on fourth down from the Raiders 6, but Roderic Teamer’s defensive holding penalty — Vegas’ 10th flag of the day — kept the drive alive with 16 seconds left.

Murray took a delay of game penalty before attempting the conversion from the Vegas 7, but he still hit Green with a pinpoint pass in the back of the end zone to force overtime.

Arizona won the OT coin toss, but the Raiders got the ball back when backup Vegas safety Duron Harmon knocked the ball out of Marquise Brown’s hands for an incompletion on fourth down.

HE’S OK

The Cardinals got to the Las Vegas 7 before turning the ball over on downs with 12:31 to play, and a stadium security guard also got knocked down roughly by Zach Ertz while the Cardinals tight end dived to make a catch on fourth down. The guard, who had his back to the field and never saw it coming, eventually got up and walked off the field.

GOOD REASON

Raiders owner Mark Davis missed the game because he was in Connecticut with his Las Vegas Aces while they won their first WNBA championship. The result was announced late in the third quarter to applause at Allegiant Stadium.

INJURIES

Cardinals: RB James Conner was slowed by an ankle injury after his first carry of the second half.

Raiders: Renfrow was evaluated for a concussion afterward. … DL Bilal Nichols injured his shoulder in the second half and didn’t return.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Host the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Raiders: At the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

___

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Murphy’s 59-yard OT fumble return ends Cards’ win over Vegas